Saturday, September 26, 2009


So, by now some of you know I'm expecting, this time my eighth child. Reactions to the news have mostly been positive, but there have been a few negative comments and some raised eyebrows. Perhaps I'm just ultra-sensitive, ready to pick up on the least hint of negativity, or perhaps I'm just pregnant and emotional, but I've felt the hurt of it -- the feeling that others are rejecting this baby or judging me.

I've announced my pregnancy to some friends, expecting them to share my excitement and gotten instead shrugged shoulders and a change of subject. I guess I can understand it a bit; after all, I've done this before, so perhaps they think that for me, it's just become routine, like announcing we're buying a new car or going on a vacation, nothing too new or different or exciting.

But to me, this is something to be celebrated. It's exciting and wonderful and miraculous. This child is unique and special, and this is his chance to experience earth life. I believe, as it says in Job, that we were there at the foundations of the world, "when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy" (Job 38:7) This child I am welcoming was among them, and I don't think he feels short-changed in any way because his mother has given birth before. This is his time, his place, his chance, his miracle.

Sometimes I feel very lonely, especially for a mentor, for someone who has been there and understands what I'm experiencing. We have more kids than anyone I know personally (at least that's still raising them). I wish I knew lots of moms who had more children, so I could ask them my questions, pour out my heart, and learn from their experiences. Actually, I'd be happy to know just one or two! The internet, with its wonderful, connecting power, helps some, as I've made some friends through blogs and other forums.

But there's something so nourishing about an in-person friendship. A phone call, a walk, sitting together at a park or in a living room and really understanding one another. I do understand that I have a lot to learn from women whose experiences are different from my own, but it often seems that I am left on the outside of friendships with those who have fewer children, even when we're the same age. We don't get invited to dinner or to join in activities or babysitting groups. Again, I get it; seven kids is a lot to invite over, and surely, that mom with seven is far enough along in life that she's plenty busy and doesn't need your friendship. We tend to congregate around those who are at the same stage of life as we are in. Most of the moms who live around me have two or three children, so it's natural they tend to band together and enjoy each other.

But where does that leave me? There are not an abundance of large families nearby for me to band together with! In fact, a recent article reported that just .5 percent, or one mother in two hundred, will have more than seven children in her lifetime. No wonder I'm beginning to feel as if I'm the only person in the world with more than six kids! I understand a lot of the reasons there aren't more large families, from the pressure to fit into the world's standards of acceptable to the very real financial, emotional, and health concerns to the pain of infertility. The fact is, even if a couple wanted to have a lot of children and eschewed birth control, many would never have eight children. A hundred years ago, there were a lot of large families of eight, ten, and even twelve or more children, yes, but there were also families of one, two, or none.

I'm really not complaining (Okay, maybe I am, a little). And I should point out that I have been blessed with good friendships. One of my best friends has six children and is the one I call or walk with when life gets just a bit too tough. Another of my best friends lives in New York, and thanks to email, our friendship has survived eleven years, through several moves, her life in Sweden and Israel, and soon-to-be thirteen births between us. Some of my other friends send me quick notes in response to my weekly emails or lift me in other ways. I am so grateful for the good people around me.

But sometimes, I feel lonely.

(also posted on my blog, Hands Full and Loving It)


Catholic Mom of 10 said...

I felt a bit strange expecting my 8th. I even thought for a moment it was irresponsible. I had 7 healthy daughters & wasn't even considering a boy! Anyway at the 20 week scan she turns to me & says 'it's a boy!'..i still haven't got over the shock! he was born May 13th Our Lady of Fatima..7 my 9th was a little (well another 9 pounder!) to keep him company & Jacinta no 10..the icing on the cake! Though sadly after that C section & age 38 my mental health declined..but I would do it ALL again! They are beautiful of my friends has 14! We did have good support with the national assoc of Catholic families..when they were small. it is kinda isolating though coz no-one really can imagine just how hard it is cleaning, cooking's worth it..Many congrats!

mama bear said...

I understand where you are coming from, although I "only" have 5 children. I have a few friends with over 12 children, so I am thankful for that. I do notice that after we adopted our 2 youngest, we got invited to "average sized" families houses a LOT less. I am lonely too, but still thankful for the few families who want to socialize with us despite our large size. Sometimes it is hard not to jump to conclusions about being left out because of our children's race too.

Gramma 2 Many said...

Just found you blog surfing. I can only say, always remember each live is a gift from God. Do not let the world put you down or make you feel guilty for the size of your family. I have been there. Not eight, but six. I am the third eldest of twelve. Today I am the grandmother of 19 and I even get raised eyebrows when I tell people how many grands I have.
I love each of them for the unique person they are and because God trusted our family to raise and nurture them.

Gramma 2 Many said...

typo!!! Each life is a gift from God. Should proof read before I push send:)

A bit about me... said...

I think many moms of many have been where you are. I, too, feel lonely at times when we are rejoicing in the blessing of a new life created and others can only see the "burdens". You are NOT alone and each precious life, no matter how small, is a precious gift to all humanity. ((HUGS))

Creations By Hand said...

I totally feel your pain. I only have 5 children but I have gotten negative comments for pregnancies 3-5. It hurts. People also say, in front of my 5 girls, doesn't your husband want a boy? My girls get a bit hurt thinking that their daddy doesn't want them. I don't have other large families around me other. Just know that you can always reach out to the internet to find large families willing to support you. Congrats on your new baby!

Maryanne said...

The worst is the judgement and assumptions from people who are members of the church. When I told someone about being pregnant with my fourth, he started reciting "There was an Old Woman who lived in a shoe." I seriously wanted to punch him. I was already feeling overwhelmed and could use some help!